Monday, October 25, 2010
Why I Don't Watch Jersey Shore
I went shopping for my Halloween costume today and was, as always, blown away by how costumes are marketed to women. I always intend to have a funny, conceptual costume (freshman year of college, I dressed up as Static Cling) and yet, when I gaze on the multitudes of slutty outfits, I feel the pull. Maybe, a small voice in me says, I should just try to look hot. But then I come to my senses and stick to my original plan. This year, my costume will actually comment upon the slutty-girl costume phenomenon, as I am wearing a hybrid of all the cliched costumes that otherwise intelligent women decide to debase themselves in every October. I'm dressing up as a naughty nurse/French maid/cowgirl/she-devil/cat. Judith Butler would be proud.
It shouldn't have surprised me to see a large portion of the store devoted to Jersey Shore costumes -- this year, the streets will be overflowing with Pauly Ds, the Situations and Snookis.
And I, for one, am not pleased.
Have I seen the show? Of course. I haven't been living under a rock. And many people whom I respect watch it regularly. I tried to get on board, I really did. But at the end of the day, I just find it utterly sad that we as a culture are celebrating idiocy, no matter how entertaining it may be. There's also an undeniable self-congratulatory, Schadenfreudic appeal: while we laugh at Snooki falling over drunk at the club, we pat ourselves on the back for being more self-aware than she is, or at the very least, more competent at holding our liquor.
But what disturbs me the most is the fact that the Jersey Shore "cast members" make, according to The Hollywood Reporter, $30,000 an episode. That's more than some public school teachers make in a year. And Vinnie and Sammi earn it by living rent-free in a beach house and picking fights with their roommates. And if you want Snooki to make an appearance at your birthday party? That'll cost you $50,000. Just for her to show up.
I used to take issue with celebrities like Paris Hilton, who were famous just for being famous. But Paris seems downright hard-working in comparison -- at least she pretends to design handbags or something. All the Jersey Shore cast members have contributed are some handy acronyms, such as "DTF" (Down to Fuck), and the inspiration for unnecessary iPhone apps that locate gyms, tanning salons, and laundromats. As if the Situation is still doing his own laundry these days.
Anyway, I'm not trying to be a sourpuss -- I'll admit that the few episodes I've seen have had their amusing moments. But I'm simultaneously appalled. I'm not against reality TV in general and I certainly have my guilty pleasures (I subscribe to People Magazine!). But something about Jersey Shore just rubs me the wrong way. The Real World is boring, but somehow less offensive to me. When it comes to reality television, I guess I'd rather watch people with actual skills compete for something, whether it's a record deal, a chance to show a collection at New York fashion week, or even just a shit-ton of money. Call me old-fashioned, but that's how I feel.
Now, if someone wants to pay me to get drunk on national television, maybe I'll change my tune....America's Next Top Grad Student, anyone?